This is a big step forward. The union gained the right to block unnecessary tests. The ultimate goal must be to block all standardized tests because they are inherently designed to favor advantaged students over disadvantaged students.

Some network chiefs are trying to saddle students and teachers with useless and unnecessary tests. But we know what our students need – and we’re using powerful new language in our contract to reject these tests.

As part of our demand for respect for our professionalism and decision-making, we’ve fought against tests that are unduly burdensome and not useful. In the current Board-Union Agreement, we won the right to vote on ALL assessments that are not mandated by the State of Illinois, REACH, or particular programs like IB or bilingual education.

This is huge. This year, dozens of schools have held discussions in their PPCs, school communities and union meetings, and held votes where members have said “NO” to ‘optional’ assessments.

Some Network Chiefs are pushing back and trying to persuade members to add more tests – but members have held firm and confident in their judgement about the assessments their students need – or don’t need.

Cases which cannot be resolved at the school level will be brought to Strategic Bargaining for resolution. Our view is that the contract is clear and that teachers know their students’ needs.

If you’re having problems resolving testing issues at the school level, contact your field rep so this can be brought to strategic bargaining. And remember to email your plan and vote results to Vera Lindsay.

Both teachers and students have been victims of over-reliance on high-stakes testing for decades. Way too much teaching time has been taken up with prepping students for test-taking and administering numerous assessments — often, it seems, to profit big testing companies. A serious side effect: counselors are so busy with test prep duties on top of huge caseloads that they lack adequate time to counsel students who need the help they’ve been trained to provide.

But we know what our students need, and we’re using powerful new language in our contract to reject the time wasted on unnecessary and pointless tests — and take that time back for teaching.